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My Views on Kate & Leopold

I went to see Kate & Leopold last night with a male colleague, who admitted that he likes such romantic movies. After the show ended, we both felt that it was not as nice as we expected it to be, so there was a tiny bit of disappointment.

And before you read on further, be warned that I am the type who likes to pick apart a movie after watching it. Don't ask why, I just do. So what I'm going to say will seem very critical to those of you who absolutely love this movie. If you cannot stand to hear these criticisms, please do not proceed further.

On the whole, K&L is an average nice movie, no profound meanings, no emotional roller-coaster ride. I'm sure all, if not most romance readers will agree that there are a lot more better written plots to be found in the novels we read than K&L.

Most of us ladies will probably fall in love with Leopold, simply because he's a dream come true. K&L is just like one of our time-travel romance novels come to life on the big screen, but for a romance, I'm afraid I can only rate it average at best. For years and years, I've waited for someone to adapt Judith McNaught's Paradise or Perfect and make them into movies, but I doubt they'll do it. (No prize for guessing my favourite author or books).

Back to K&L, we all love Leopold's manners, his breeding, his conduct, his knowledge. He literally put Kate's boss, JJ, to shame each time JJ opens his mouth. 

But like I said, I'm the type to pick out flaws in the movies, so here goes: 

First, they never show how or what actually happened after jumping off Brooklyn Bridge. Where do they land?   We see Stewart and Leopold falling off the bridge and next thing we know, they are having a fight in Stewart's apartment. So does that mean the crack in the portal opens right over Stewart's couch and they had a somewhat soft landing? And what about when Kate went back to Leopold's time? She jumped off the bridge, and ta-da! She landed on her feet near the bridge and was off running for Leopold's house in the next moment. 

I would really have preferred it if they had adopted another manner of crossing portals. Portals are not visible, one moment you are in the present, and the next you may have stepped across an invisible boundary and find yourself in another time. Take Lynn Kurland's sequels - A Dance Through Time and The Very Thought of You, all they did was walk past a certain spot and they're in medieval Scotland. Simple, safe and effective. Of course, I'm not an expert with time traveling, how many time traveling romances have I read anyway? It's just that common sense tells us that when you jump off from such a great height, you're bound to get hurt unless there's something soft to break your fall. Or if they had to have something to help them cross the portal, why can't it be like Stargate or The Tenth Kingdom with the magic mirror? But I suppose if they do that, they'll be accused of copying plots or something like that. (OK, there's no pleasing everyone.)

All right, enough about time traveling and portals. 

Leopold is a Duke in New York, America and not of London. So he's not the essential British peer that we are more familiar with in Regency England. No wonder I thought the streets looked wrong somehow.

Leopold also doesn't seem too shocked to get thrown in the modern world, but I excuse him for that since he's a scientist and an inventor. But when he's in present day New York, where did he get the money to engage the services of the violin player? I doubt he will take money from Kate, Kate's brother perhaps?

And seriously, which carriage driver will lend his horse to a complete stranger in regency garb to go chasing after a thief? He's more liable to think that gent a loon from a madhouse and chase him away.

What about the part where Kate's future self got to the past (at Leopold's engagement party) before Stewart was there? Sure, Stewart tried to explain that Kate's future self was there in the first place, but that would have been like Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back To The Future' series where one is in danger of meeting oneself. I suppose the scriptwriter and director do not want to be bothered with such technical stuff, can't blame them though. If people have to tie up all ends neatly, they'll spend a lot more time thinking than making the movie. But I still want to say that the scene in Time Cop with Jean-Claude Van Damme and his reel wife looking at the clock piece in the mall was very nicely done.

With so many flaws, it's no wonder this movie didn't make a deep impression on me. Still, I know I shouldn't be so critical. After all, people go to the movies to relax and have a good time, not to kill their grey matters. Yet, I am sure there are many romance novel readers who share the same views like I do, and if they are as picky as I am, it'll take much more to satisfy us.

Back to the Duke, I thinking, is it me or what? Maybe I am too cynical, but I felt that as a Duke, Leopold is extremely nice, in fact, far too nice. He said he was born a Duke, and groomed from birth to be one. You would think that by the time he reaches 30, he would be like most of the cynical peers that we read about in between the pages. We all know of their reluctance to get shackled to one of those 'simpering milk-faced' chits who cannot put two sentences together with simpering or stuttering. So when Leopold practiced his 'flowery speeches' while getting dressed in front of the mirror and he said, 'you danced... like a herd of cattle', that was really in character.

However, when he was in Kate's time, he actually made breakfast for her. That's so unimaginable, never mind that he's had a love-hate relationship with her toaster. 

My colleague remarked after the movie that Leopold was not 100% a gentleman because he slept with her on her bed. I thought Leopold was being very gentlemanly because that was all he did. I guess I am indeed cynical for I cannot help thinking that if he had been in his time and a lady invited him to her boudoir, they would have done more than sleep. But again, I have to take into consideration that Leopold is in love with her, and being in modern times, can we really say that he has compromised her, given the fact that so many couples are co-hibiting in this day?

When Kate was having dinner with JJ and Leopold was out with her brother, he remarked that Kate should have been home by now since it is almost midnight. That's funny because we know that parties in his time lasts well beyond midnight. We don't read much about courting couples although we do know of the need for a chaperon. Maybe Leopold made that remark because Kate and JJ didn't have a chaperon.

Another thing that surprised me is that Leopold actually knows the Language of Flowers. We know that the gentry must learn such stuff, but I would think that it is the ladies who are more concerned about them. Generally, if a peer wants to send flowers, I doubt he would be the one to pick the flowers himself. It is more usual if he asked his secretary to see that the appropriate flowers are sent along with a note which may not even be written by him unless he is in love with her. As a Duke, Leopold is just too good to be true.

It is certainly not easy being humans. We live in modern times, with technologies so advanced that we have become so much lazier. With so much more convenience like automated doors, our education system seems to have gone backward. We have so much more choices, we have women's liberation, but we gave up on common courtesy, gallantry and chivalry.

My colleague told me that once he was reprimanded for opening a door for a woman. She was angry and asked him why he did it, did he think her incapable of opening a door for herself? I thought that was extremely bad mannered of her. Here we are, scores of women, waiting in vain these days for a man to accord us this simple courtesy which is fast dying out, and there she is, the lucky recipient of such a gesture, and she scolded him for it. It goes to show that men like him still exists, only they did it for the wrong women. What kind of upside-down world do we live in anyway?

All my life, I have been very lucky. Ever since I stepped out to work 9 years ago, I have been shown courtesy in various stages by the men I have worked with. Most of them are one generation older, so perhaps that code of gentlemanly conduct are still instilled in them. As for the young men of my generation, well, sad to say that many have lost that basic courtesy, but for my male colleague who said he was brought up with better manners, I am indeed thankful that I still have men opening and holding doors for me.


19 Feb 2002



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